The tradition of watching minorities being ignored at the Academy Awards is as familiar as eating that tired stale fruit cake every Christmas. Hard, old and annual. I am not just talking about black people. I am talking about women, the disabled and other ethnic minorities too. The fact that we are still referred to as "minorities" is telling. Women are 49.6% of the global population, and so called "ethnic minorities" are approximately 83% of it, though western countries are the vast majority of the wealthiest countries on earth. So the concept of inequality is far from new . Watching black people being excluded from the Oscars is about as surprising as the death of Amy Winehouse. So what is the difference this year?
Many black media moguls including Wendy Williams, Trevor Noah, Larry Wilmore and Fox News correspondent Stacey Dash have weighed in on the matter while actors Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith and director Spike Lee have decided to boycott this year's event. The only thing that is shocking to me about this situation is that this has not happened sooner. Why are we still looking for acceptance and recognition from an organisation with such a long history of bigotry?
The first black person to win an Oscar was Hattie McDaniel in 1939 for playing the role of "Mammy" (yes I said Mammy) in "Gone With the Wind" and of course she was not permitted to attend the ceremony because she was black. In 1973 Marlon Brando declined to accept his Oscar in protest of the racist depictions of Native Americans in the film industry. Not to mention experiments like the "Bechdel Test" exposing the common and continual dismissal and objectification of women in film. All of these examples serve as a blatant reminder that we are a long way from equality.
Over the years there has been a small handful of black winners and nominees almost exclusively gaining recognition for portraying subservient submissive victims of slavery and racism. The Oscar committee is simply not qualified or even capable of giving the black community recognition because they are disconnected and ultimately unable to understand it. They are simply unable to see us in a complete light. The tokenism that we do see at the academy awards exists because the truth is the only colour is green. Excluding minority groups from any business venture is bad business and will be almost impossible to sustain.
The Oscar committee is 94% white, 76% male with an average age of 63, it is however surprisingly chaired by a black woman. The academy is no more capable of determining the "best" actor, movie, screenplay or director than I am of predicting the amount of rainfall in Brazil this year and it is idiotic for us to look to them for recognition. The over representation of white males is apparent in television, radio, parliament, the police force, medicine and academia to name a few. So why are we supposed to be outraged by yet another Oscar white out? Any competition, awards ceremony or review only have power IF we give it to them. Our outrage only affirms our compliance to a system of white male supremacy. We need to recognise ourselves because all empires fall and it takes less energy to watch a bandit hang themselves than to plan an execution.